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Troy MI License Restoration Blog

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

IF YOUR MICHIGAN DRIVERS LICENSE IS REVOKED AND YOU ARE LIVING IN ANOTHER STATE....GETTING A CLEARANCE IS MORE WORK BUT THE BENEFITS ARE GREATER

Many people that get into license trouble here in Michigan relocate to another State thinking about a new start. The sentiment is all fine and good, but, when it comes to getting around, unless the individual moves to a State with extensive commuter services they quickly get slapped in the face with the realization that they need their license back.

Probably the most shocking fact is that the individual will have to resolve the revocation in Michigan with the Michigan Secretary of State. However, after the realization sets in, the only thing left to do is to do it. Any amount of griping or complaining will be of no benefit. There is no way around it.

Although, if the person is a gambling sort, an administrative appeal can be attempted wherein only the petition and various evidence is submitted by mail and nobody appears “in person”. The problem is is that only one in four of these types of hearings are successful. When you consider there is only one petition granted to a petitioner per year, the odds are not in the petitioners favor, and, unless the petitioner does not really “need” a license and has nowhere to go and nothing to do all day every day, this approach to regaining your license back is not recommended.

With every denial of a petitioner’s request for driving privileges the process get a little more difficult. This is due to the fact that after a denial a record is made of the failed hearing and it must be reconciled at the next hearing. Meaning that the Order of denial must be reviewed and incorporated into the next hearing a year later. By saying “incorporated” I mean the reasons for the denial must be reconciled and discussed at the next hearing.

Our motto going into these hearings is, “keep it simple”. We don’t offer any unneeded information. We don’t prattle on in response to any question posed. We don’t make things harder for ourselves in any way. When a person gets denied, things get harder.

This all boils down to the bottom line of, in person hearings – one time.

The procedure requires the person to come into town two times but when that person leaves the second time after the hearing, they leave with FULL DRIVING PRIVILEGES. No interlock, no blowing every fifteen minutes, no re-calibrations, no second hearing (at a cost of another $1,500.00) and no more coming back to Michigan…unless it’s for something you decide to do rather than have to do.

Do not put your fate in someone’s hands that does not know exactly how to keep your best interests as priority number one. Call the Law of Office of Martin Lievois in Troy at 248-419-1566 or in Flint at 810-250-4550.

Monday, July 27, 2015

MORE THAN "ELIGIBILITY DATE" IS NECESSARY FOR A SUCCESSFUL LICENSE RESTORATION

An individual called the other inquiring about a license restoration. He proceeded to tell me about his past issues and then told me, “I’m eligible for a license in August”. I decided that I had better ask a few questions to satisfy myself that, in fact, he was eligible for restoration.

I always start by asking my clients to go to the Secretary of State to get a copy of their driving record and get it to me. Of course I can do this for the person but generally they are chomping at the bit to get started and do not want to wait the 7-10 days it usually takes for a copy to be sent pursuant to a request by mail from my office.

This individual did not want to wait and said he would get a ride to a local Secretary of State to secure a copy for my review. He proceeded to tell me from his memory about his past convictions and then stated that he was still on probation. He also had some court costs he needed to still pay.

I asked him if he wanted the good news or the bad news first. With that I proceeded to inform him that although he may be “eligible” according to the time period he is made to wait, if he tried to petition the AHS (Administrative Hearing Section) of the Secretary of State, he would lose.

Knowing that I had just crushed his hopes, I further informed him that had he tried to petition the AHS on his own he would have lost because he was still on probation and still owed money to the courts. There is nothing in the regulations that refer to this but it is a fact. The silver lining here is that if he tried and lost he would have bought himself another year of waiting until he became eligible once again. But with a little planning and effort, his way could’ve been paved with success. WHY??? Well, first of all, the Secretary of State will not grant privileges of any kind if fines and court costs are owed to the State…period. Now, if driver responsibility fees are owed, payment plans are available and a license restoration petition can go forward…if payments are being made. And not one can be missed. Unfortunately, the Secretary of State does not recognize payment plans for fines and costs, so they all have to be paid before the individual gets credit so to speak.

Probation is another story. The individual cannot be on probation!!

Hearing officers are looking for periods of abstinence that are voluntary. At the very least I like to see one full year (generally more) of voluntary abstinence before I file a petition. If someone just gets released from prison and says, “It’s been several years since my last drink and my driving record says I’m eligible”, they are not!! This is the rationale of the Hearing officers and the court cases that have interpreted the concept of “abstinence”. They do not consider being incarcerated as “voluntary” abstinence because it is a controlled environment.

“Voluntary” begins when the person has the freedom to do whatever he/she wants without being under the scrutiny of the Court or Department of Corrections.

If you believe you are eligible for reinstatement of driving privileges, call the Law Offices of Martin Lievois to find out for sure before you make a mistake that costs you a year delay. In Flint at 810-250-4550 or in Troy at 248-419-1566.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Michigan’s Controversial Asset Forfeiture Laws

Is it true that Michigan can seize personal property even if the owner is only a suspect in an alleged crime (not necessarily convicted)? 


Civil asset forfeiture is one of the many tools used by law enforcement officials to essentially strip alleged offenders of the fruits of their labor. Historically, this measure was implemented to ensure drug dealers, scam artists, and others reaping significant criminal profits were not able to use these ill-gotten gains to either make bail or abscond. However, several bi-partisan advocacy groups have found it necessary to place restraints on this practice, citing important constitutional due process rights. In a national “Fix Forfeiture” campaign, Michigan (along with two other states) has been targeted as one of the top jurisdictions with wildly incongruent forfeiture laws – often resulting in unnecessary financial hardship for families ultimately deemed innocent of the alleged crimes. 

Civil forfeiture in Michigan

According to the Institute for Justice, Michigan law enforcement retained nearly $19 million in asset forfeiture per year from 2001-2008. These figures include both currency and personal property, and may be seized upon a showing that it is more likely than not that the property was obtained illegally – a standard known as the “preponderance of the evidence.” This evidence standard is actually much lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard required to actually convict someone of a crime, so it stands to reason that Michiganders are being forced to relinquish property despite never having actually committed a crime. 

However, unlike other states with asset forfeiture laws, Michigan shifts its burden of proof to the state prosecutor to prove that the assets were likely obtained through illegal means. In other states, it becomes the defendant’s responsibility to prove the assets were not obtained illegally, so Michiganders fortunately have a small advantage within the realm of burden of proof. Nonetheless, groups like Fix Forfeiture believe it is time for a change, and have set out to lobby lawmakers to amend these forfeiture laws to require an actual conviction first. 

If you are concerned about civil asset forfeiture or believe you may be unlawfully targeted, do not hesitate to contact Flint and Troy criminal defense attorney Martin T. Lievois today.  Contact him in Troy at 248-419-0566 or in Flint at 810-250-4550 today. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Facing a DUI Arrest as a Student Athlete: What to do next….

What are the consequences of a DUI arrest that are specific to student athletes?


From coaches to players to staff members, DUI arrests within college athletic programs often make national headlines – and put arrestees’ futures in jeopardy. Most recently, the Director of Football Operations for the University of Michigan was arrested under suspicion of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Likewise, two high-profile Michigan State players – one on the basketball team and one on the football squad – were arrested for similar alleged crimes, albeit in the off-season. 

For the optimistic college ball player with a full or partial athletic scholarship, a DUI arrest can change the course of fate.  Unfortunately, an arrest alone – notwithstanding the ultimate verdict – can put a major damper on the collegiate athletic schedule, resulting in suspension or dismissal. 

Collateral effects of a DUI arrest or charge

College sports are governed by multiple layers of rules and regulations. First, there are those rules set by the coach for the governance of the team. These rules obviously vary from school to school, and even among the various teams within one institution. Then, there is the student code of conduct, which sets the expectations and punishments awaiting students who have violated the rules of the school. From there, students receiving loan money, grants, or private scholarships are held to an additional set of academic and character standards. In sum, a DUI charge can result in loss of a prominent playing position, dismissal from school, or loss of tuition funding. 

Student athletes may also face enhanced scrutiny for bringing about a negative reputation on a public or private institution, particularly if the DUI results in a conviction and major penalties. As an athlete in the prime of his or her sports career, one of the most important steps to take immediately upon facing a DUI arrest in Michigan is to contact an aggressive and savvy attorney to handle the various unique components of a DUI charge for the collegiate athlete.

To protect your reputation following arrest for a DUI, please contact Michigan criminal defense attorney Martin T. Lievois today.  He can be reached in Flint at  (810)250-4550 and in Troy at (248)419-1566.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

DOES YOUR SOBRIETY STORY MEET THE THRESHOLD FOR REINSTATEMENT??

License restoration, as far as the concept goes, is not rocket science; is the petitioner sober and is he/she likely to remain sober?!?

Everything from the testimonial letters to the substance abuse evaluation to the in-person hearing which we request and attend, focus on this one single issue. And the bar is set high for consideration for reinstatement. The proofs, in their entirety must be “clear and convincing” that in fact the petitioner is sober and likely to remain sober.

For the attorney that “occasionally” handles a license restoration case, often times, the attention to detail is not there simply because they are unaware of what is needed by way of solid proofs. Like the saying goes, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”.

I cannot tell you how many clients, after having gone through a failed attempt and now going through the process with me have said, “My old attorney never made me do this or told me about that…” Anyone can read the regulations and understand the meaning of the words, but to understand what the hearing officers want and how they want it presented is key.

I have rarely received a testimonial that needed no tweaking. The fact that the letter is signed, dated, notarized and within the 90 day window is fine, but, if the attorney does not review the letter for its content past the above mentioned requirements then a disservice is done to the client.

 Regardless of how many instructions are given to the authors of the testimonial letters, there is this weird propensity to launch off into how good of a guy the petitioner is, or how great his attitude is at work… (trust me, these revelations are not part of my instructions), and while these facts may qualify as fluff and can actually be a part of a letter, they cannot take the place of statutorily required content.

However, AFTER all required content is included; all fluff is fine, assuming it is appropriate.

The main point here is that the letters are some of the most enlightening testimony on behalf of the client and should be treated as such. Attorneys that do not fly spec them are not properly preparing their client. The problem with this is that the client will not know any problem exists until sometime during the hearing (when it’s too late to talk about it with the attorney or delete it from the letter).

Proper preparation on the part of the attorney will put the client in the best position for a successful license restoration petition. To talk to an attorney that NEVER cuts corners when it comes to preparation call the Law Offices of Martin Lievois in Troy at 248-419-1566 or in Flint at 810-250-4550.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A KEY ELEMENT TO WINNING LICENSE RESTORATION PETITIONS ARE YOUR TESTIMONIAL LETTERS

Of course, being sober is obviously paramount with regards to ones efforts to reacquire their drivers license', but it is also obvious. If you are not sober and try to "wing it" or, "pull the wool over the hearing officers eyes", and mine, well then that's your call. Not advisable.

But getting to the point of this article,I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the testimonial letters in preparation of a DAAD hearing. Over time my approach to license restoration hearings has evolved. Now, in-person testimony by friends, etc., instead of being the norm is now the exception; the “fewer moving parts” so to speak, the fewer chances of problems.

Without in-person testimony however, other evidence must be all that more compelling (there will be that much less testimony on the record as a whole). That is why I put so much emphasis on the testimonial letters; because they are that important.

Of course the client must be well prepared! The client meeting with myself is very necessary as well as is the substance abuse evaluation (which I have made very convenient by doing it in-house). Without a well prepared client the odds go way down for a win.

But, speaking of odds, hearing officers also realize that it may be much easier for a petitioner to lie than it would be to get five other people to lie for you. So the odds are that the hearing officer attaches just as much weight to the letters as he does the petitioner’s testimony (maybe even more).

I further emphasize to my clients to prepare the “authors” of the testimonial letters to understand that they will in all likelihood need to write two drafts of their letter. Reason being, I review and edit the first drafts. Then I return them to my client to have them re-written with my suggestions incorporated. Only after I have reviewed them for the second time and am pleased with their representation of my client, do I have them notarized and readied for submission.

Aside from my client’s physical appearance and body language displayed at the hearing and the way he/she testifies, the testimonial letters are the only glimpse into my client’s character and life the hearing officer has. Friends, relatives or whoever else that writes a testimonial letter often times lose sight of  the clients objective (or never really knew it in the first place). And in so doing write things or write about incidents that are not conducive to those objectives.

No problem!! That’s why I edit. Gone are the references to narrowly avoiding drinking at the Motley Crue concert. Or….I only held the beer bong and I didn’t inhale either!!!

By the time the letters get submitted my clients are a stone’s throw away from being anointed for sainthood. Kidding….sort of.

At any rate its good practice for the second round of letters after the passing of one year in the event we are not granted full privileges at the first hearing.

If you cannot afford to lose. If you cannot afford to wait around another year for another hearing. If you want the best odds of getting driving privileges restored – fast, then call the Law Offices of Martin Lievois in Flint at 810-250-4550 or in Troy at 248-419-1566.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Michigan Releases Results of Its Ignition Interlock Device Study

Are ignition interlock devices actually useful in deterring drunk driving in Michigan? 


The potential penalties awaiting a habitual DUI offender can be pretty steep, including significant fines and possible jail time. One way to avoid the effects of a second, third, or subsequent DUI conviction is to avoid driving while intoxicated all together – a concept which prompted the Michigan legislature to implement an ignition interlock device (IID) option for DUI defendants who must rely on their vehicles for transportation to work or school. 

For a period spanning from 2011 through 2014, Michigan authorities followed several IID cases to determine whether the program actually helped to deter recidivism and prevent intoxicated driving. Overall, the program proved wildly successful, and lawmakers are taking steps to expand the program and encourage offenders to voluntarily enroll in the program as an alternative to incarceration. 

Results of 2014 Ignition Interlock Device study

Participants in the IID program are typically offered enrollment as an alternative sentence, and are required to engage in concurrent substance abuse counseling and community service. As a condition of successful completion, each enrollee must submit to a daily breathalyzer prior to starting his or her vehicle – which will remain inoperable until the breath test registers total sobriety. 

Out of the study, the following statistics emerged: 

• Within the areas of Kalamazoo, Waterford Township, Grand Rapids, Traverse City and Marquette, 414 enrollees successfully completed the program, while 55 did not. 
• A separate sobriety court group that did not utilize the IID technology had a 34% failure rate, with 137 participants out of 404 failing to complete the program. 
• Less than three percent of participants have been subsequently convicted of a DUI crime.

Likewise, many graduates of the program credit its conditions with helping them to overcome a debilitating addiction to alcohol. In the words of one participant, “I know being able to drive myself — without having to rely on family or friends for rides — has enabled me to make it to work, to my probation appointments….without this, I probably wouldn’t have remained sober.” 

If you are facing a difficult situation or would like to speak with a Troy or Flint, Michigan criminal defense and DUI

attorney about restoring your driving privileges, please contact Martin T. Lievois.  Our office in Flint can be reached at (810)250.4550 and our office in Troy can be reached at (248)419.1566.



Monday, June 8, 2015

Minor DWI/DUIs are NOT Minor Offenses

What consequences can minors face if convicted of DWI/DUI?

Minors get caught drunk driving during spring and early summer at a much higher rate than any other time of the year. Prom, graduation, and those first few weeks home from college for the summer are wonderful things to celebrate, but getting charged with DWI/DUI is anything but fun. 

In Michigan, we have zero tolerance law when it comes to minors and driving under the influence. 

• If you are under 21 years old, and are found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02 or greater, you are in trouble. 

• The 0.02 limit that applies to minors is significantly lower than the 0.08 limit drivers of legal age face, meaning virtually any amount of alcohol is going to put you over the limit. If you are a minor caught with a BAC over 0.08, you can be charged under the regular DWI/DUI laws and face stiffer penalties. 

• People also think that you have to be actually driving to get charged with DWI/DUI. That is typically the case for adults, but not true for minors. Minors can be charged with DWI/DUI for just sitting in a car in a parking lot. 

• Some people think that the 0.02 limit does not apply if the alcohol was consumed in Canada where the legal drinking age is 19. That is not true. The 0.02 limit applies to all drivers under the age of 21, even if they legally consumed the alcohol that put them over the limit. 

• Getting an underage DWI/DUI can dramatically increase the penalties you face if you are convicted of other offenses later in life. 

Getting convicted of DWI/DUI as a minor can change the course of your life, so it important to get good legal advice as soon as possible after being ticketed or arrested. If convicted, the judge can revoke your license, impose fines and/or jail time, require you to do community service hours and add points to your license. 

There will also be consequences outside of the legal system. Beyond the social stigma you will face, your insurance rates will increase, you could have some scholarships revoked, and you might even have trouble finding a job or renting an apartment. These serious repercussions are the reason you need an experienced criminal defense attorney at your side. 

If you or your child has been charged with DWI/DUI don’t waste any time. Call experienced driving under the influence attorney Martin T. Lievois today to schedule your free consultation. The number is (248)419.1566 in Troy and (810)250.4550 in Flint.


Friday, June 5, 2015

Drive Sober or Get Your Boat Pulled Over

What penalties can you face if you operate a watercraft while intoxicated?


Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, and of Michigan's boating season. If you are planning on heading out on the lake, don’t forget that this year the state’s blood-alcohol limit for boating dropped to 0.08 (down from 0.1 in previous years).

Most people think that they can only get a DWI/DUI for driving an automobile while intoxicated, but Michigan’s drunk driving law actually applies much more broadly. The same limit that applies to driving a car now applies to watercraft - from pontoons to seadoos - any type that can be used for transportation needs to have someone sober operating it. 
 
It is still legal to have open containers of alcohol and drink from them while on a boat, but it is not legal to operate a boat if your blood-alcohol content (BAC) is over 0.08. Operating has been defined as in control of the boat while it is underway. Thus, if a boat is tied to the dock or anchored, it is not being operated, but the second it “sets sail” the DWI/DUI law kicks in.

The penalties for boating under the influence are similar to automobile DWI/DUI penalties. If convicted, a judge can revoke your operating privileges, sentence you to jail, and/or impose a fine. Boating DWI/DUI convictions have no direct impact on your auto drivers’ license, but the judge will be able to see your full record at sentencing, and could impose a penalty on the higher end if they feel it is appropriate to do so.

The police are really cracking down on drunk boating this year since the law is new, so it is important to know your limit if you are the one in operating a boat. Although the BAC limit is the same for boats as it is for cars, drinking an amount that would not typically put you over the limit on land may put you well over the limit out on the water since alcohol gets absorbed much more quickly when you are out in the sun and not fully hydrated. Many boaters have been very surprised their BAC level was over the limit based on the small amount of alcohol they had consumed. 

If you have any questions about Michigan’s drunk driving laws, or have recently been cited for DWI/DUI - in any kind of vehicle – call experienced attorney Martin T. Lievois today for your free consultation. You can reach the office in Flint at (810)250.4550 or the office in Troy at (248)419.1566.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How Driving Under the Influence Can Effect Your Employment

Can a DUI Conviction Impact My Job?

A DUI Conviction can result in the loss of driving privileges, and depending on your job and your employer, it may even result in the loss of your job. While some employers may give you the benefit of the doubt if you are arrested, a DUI conviction may cause your employer to question your character and judgement. In certain industries, a DUI conviction may entirely disqualify you from performing your duties. 

If you watch the news, you know it’s not uncommon for the DUI arrests and convictions of high profile individuals such as celebrities, business moguls and professionals athletes to make headlines. With so much attention, these individuals often suffer the consequences at the workplace. One example is former Michigan State football star, and current Pittsburgh Steeler, Le’Veon Bell, according to the Detroit Free Press. 

Bell is facing a three game suspension after he was arrested and charged with drug possession and driving under the influence, according to a source who spoke to USA Today. Bell is currently appealing the suspension. Bell and LeGarrette Blount (who were Steelers teammates at the time) were arrested on August 20, 2014 when police discovered about three-fourths of an ounce of marijuana in Bell's vehicle after a traffic stop.

Bell was sentenced to probation for fifteen months and he received a sixty day license suspension. Blount (now with the New England Patriots) had his charges dropped because he pledged to perform fifty hours of community service; he was suspended for one game.

Another industry very sensitive to DUI convictions is transportation. If you are employed in this industry you may be suspended or terminated if your company believes it is in their best interests, according to the Houston Chronicle. A DUI conviction may raise your employer’s insurance rates and potentially expose your employer to liability for keeping a driver with a known DUI record. Instead of firing or suspending you, your duties could change so you are not driving, which may result in a pay cut. If you were arrest for a DUI while on the job, your firing (barring some contractual obligations) would be virtually certain.

There are many reasons to strongly defend yourself against a DUI charge and how it can impact your career is one of them. If you have been arrested for DUI, you need to protect your rights. Call the DUI defense attorney Martin T. Lievois today by calling his Flint, Michigan office at (810)250-4550  or his Troy, Michigan office at (248)419-1566.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Practicality of Plea Bargain Agreements

Can a Guilty Verdict on a Lesser Charge be seen as a Win?

Depending on the circumstances and the charges, you may be able to avoid a more serious DUI charge by pleading guilty to a lesser charge.  This is known as a plea bargain agreement and is widely used in the criminal justice system. If evidence supporting a more serious charge is weak and a defendant does not want to risk a conviction, a defendant and prosecutor may agree to dropping that charge in exchange for a guilty plea to a less serious charge. If no such agreement can be worked out, the case will go to trial.

Former Detroit Lion Nick Fairley was acquitted of a DUI charge in an Alabama but was found guilty of reckless driving and fined $500 in February, according to the Detroit Free Press. "I feel great," he is quoted as saying. "Right now this is behind me, and I want to move forward." He did move forward after the trial, signing a $5 million (up to $8 million with incentives) contract with the St. Louis Rams in March, according to ESPN.

Fairley was arrested at a May 2012 traffic stop after he drove an estimated 100 M.P.H. Evidence of intoxication was mostly circumstantial because he refused to take a blood alcohol test after his arrest. During this high-profile case, the following was presented to the jury: 

• The arresting officer testified that he observed Fairley speeding and he pursued him for nearly three miles before he pulled over. 

• The officer told jurors that Fairley was obviously impaired and admitted to drinking and driving after he was pulled over. The officer stated he could smell alcohol through the vehicle's open window. 

• Fairley’s fiancé was in the vehicle at the time and contradicted the officer’s testimony, stating the smell was from open cups of alcohol.

After a DUI trial you may not be in a position to sign a multi-million dollar contract like Fairley, but if afterward the penalties you face are only a fraction of what they could have been if convicted on all charges, you may feel like a million bucks.

If you are in need of the DUI defense attorney, call the Law Offices of Martin Lievois in Troy at 248-419-1566 or in Flint at 810-250-4550 to discuss the situation, evaluate your case and talk about your options.


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